What’s In A Name: Christmas/Hanukkah Edition
By Margaret Ransom
The Christmas/Hanukkah holidays have produced some fun and festive Thoroughbred names registered with The Jockey Club since the organization started maintaining official registrations in 1894 and maintaining records through the American Stud Book in 1896.
There have been 17 horses named Christmas registered in several countries throughout the years, the most successful being a Coolmore homebred about-to-be 3-year-old son of Galileo (out of the grade 1 winner Christmas Kid, an Edward Evans homebred, but more on her in a bit) who has won a pair of races in Europe from nine starts this year. Other notable Christmases include a steeplechase race horse who at one time owned the course record at Fair Hill and a handicap winner by Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe runner-up Santa Claus, who himself sired the classic winner Reindeer.
Speaking of Santa Claus, there have been four horses named Santa Claus overall, including one bred in St. Thomas, and none in the United States since 1941.
Two horses have carried the name Hanukkah, one bred in India named Chanukkah, and one bred in South Africa with the spelling Chanukah. Five runners have been named Menorah, the most notable being the English multiple stakes-winning jumps horse who retired with nearly £700,000 in earnings in 2017. Four Dreidels, two Gelt and one Macabees round out the names celebrating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem during the second century B.C..
Only four horses have been registered as Christmas Tree and none in North America. Three have carried the moniker Frosty the Snowman, including Arthur Appleton’s 1985 homebred, who was a multiple stakes winner, course record holder at Woodbine and a productive sire until he was pensioned in 2004. Each of Santa’s reindeer have been honored by names in The Jockey Club, including eight Rudolph, the most recent being a New York-bred 2-year-old by Marsh Side who raced exclusively at Finger Lakes.
There has been one Baby Jesus, a foal of 2016 by Exchange Rate, who was winless in four starts in 2019, and a single Japanese-bred Virgin Mary. Seven named Three Kings join them and of the six named Frankincense, two are still racing – one in Ireland, who is sired by Galileo, and one at Fair Grounds who is by Frankel. Both raced within two days of each other at the end of last month.
Ten have been named Christmas Carol, only two of which were bred in the United States. Uruguay and Japan claim two of the others.
The late prominent owner/breeder Cynthia Phipps was well-known for honoring holidays using horse names and can take credit for the winning Bold Ruler mare Yule Log, who is the dam of grade 1 winner and champion Christmas Past, Buche de Noel (French for Yule Log), Kris Kringle and Saint Nicholas, among several other holiday-themed offspring.
Christmas Past herself is the dam of Boxing Day, Wrapped and Myrrh. She lived to the ripe old age of 29 and is buried at Marchmont cemetery at Claiborne Farm.
Phipps bred and owned the only Christmas Bonus, a Key to the Mint mare who produced the multiple grade 3 winner Christmas Gift (by Green Desert) and also Bonus Money, Holiday Spirit, Checking It Twice, Bright Candles and the aforementioned Christmas Kid. In addition to her son Christmas, she also produced Father Christmas (Bernardini), who is also owned by Coolmore and is group 2-placed in Europe. Four other horses have been named Father Christmas.
And in this year with disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Maximum Security likely to pick up the Eclipse Award as the year’s top 3-year-old, perhaps his sire, 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner New Year’s Day, deserves a shoutout, too.
Happy Holidays and best wishes for a Happy New Year from all of us at Lady and the Track!